Lopez man arrested vandalizing memorial signs

A Lopez Island man said he attempted to destroy a Black Lives Matter memorial in retaliation for repeated vandalization done to his Trump 2020 sign.

San Juan County deputies recommended to the San Juan County Superior Court on Aug. 13 that Laverne Dwight Lewis, 78, of Lopez, be charged with two counts of assault in the second degree; two counts of reckless endangerment; one count of malicious mischief in the third degree; and one count of harassment.

Lewis’ arraignment is set for 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 24.

On the afternoon of Aug. 12, deputies responded to a report of malicious mischief in progress in the 1900 block of Fisherman Bay Road on Lopez, where a series of Black Lives Matter memorial signs have been located since June. The memorial was previously vandalized in late June, but no one was charged with a crime.

Responding deputies say they saw Lewis near a truck with the name of his company — Windsock Farms — on the side of the memorial, along with an orange excavator parked on a trailer. Witnesses told deputies that Lewis had reportedly used his excavator — which was equipped with a flail mower — to destroy several of the signs. When one witness stood in front of the excavator, Lewis allegedly accelerated his excavator and extended the running flail mower toward the witness, causing them to move out of the way. The mower came within 4-5 feet of the witness, according to the deputy’s probable cause statement.

After Lewis reportedly destroyed another sign, an additional witness reportedly slapped the excavator and told Lewis to stop. Lewis then, allegedly, swung the mower toward the second witness and drove toward them for approximately 10-15 feet, causing that witness to also move out of the way.

According to the probable cause statement, Lewis then exited the excavator and yelled at the witness about the “goddamn liberals painting over his Trump sign.”

A witness captured the interaction on a cellphone video, according to the probable cause statement.

Lewis reportedly told the deputy that he intended to destroy a Black Lives Matter sign every time his Trump 2020 sign was vandalized. The deputy stated in the probable cause that earlier in day, he had responded to a report of vandalism at Lewis’ house regarding the Trump sign, which had been painted over.

Lewis was arrested and booked into the San Juan County jail on the day of the alleged incident.